Insta-wow parties on a budget for kids
A new generation of 'Frozeners' and 'Warzians' is being born with the release of Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Party supply stores are stocking up on new merchandise to deal with a surge in demand for everything from confetti Elsa balloons to Darth Vader piñatas.
Dean Salakas from Sydney's The Party People said there was a surge in demand for everything Frozen 2.
"Definitely; it's not as popular as Frozen one, it was so big it was out of control, but it's popular right now."
Mr Salakas said the Elsa costumes ranging from $39 to $99 were the most in-demand in the Frozen 2 merchandise range followed by party favours.
Star Wars characters have never fallen out of fashion and the latest movie instalment is set to drive a resurgence.
"Star Wars is popular with all ages," Mr Salakas said.
Movie releases drive trends but evergreen subjects including unicorns, mermaids and Thomas the Tank reign supreme.
Rose gold is the on-trend colour choice for birthday parties, while llamas are the next big thing according to Mr Salakas, who said it was "spreading like wildfire" from the US.
Sydneysiders are splashing as much as $50,000 on their kids birthday parties, hiring everything from jumping castles, to petting zoos.
Parents have upped their game from the classic lolly bag, instead offering lolly bars and buffets costing as much $2000. And it 's not uncommon to see milkshake and popcorn stands either.
Balloon garlands and arches are hugely popular despite a price tag of $100 upwards.
"Everyone wants to have an amazing party," Mr Salakas said.
"It's the norm, people want it to stand out and look Instagram-worthy."
Even bub's first birthday had become a major affair.
"They might spend about $15,000 with us on supplies, but that can easily grow to $50,000 once they've paid for entertainers, food and venue hire," he said.
NSW mummy blogger Maraya Bell from Stuff Mums Like says you don't have to break the bank to get the Insta-wow factor.
Her advice is don't spend and arm and a leg on cake, catering and decorations when you can easily do it yourself at a budget.
FAKE THE CAKE
Buy a couple of basic round cakes and stack them on top of each other.
Layer with butter icing and you have the perfect base to create whatever you like.
Ombre icing is on trend; divide to three layers of icing and more or less drops of colour.
Or simply decorate with your child's favourite sweets and toy figurines.
"Mud and unfilled sponge cakes are cheap and easy to decorate and sell at a really good price point," Ms Bell said.
You can even use a sponge cake to create lamingtons in colours of your choice by chopping them up into squares.
"They're cheap and make loads of lamingtons," she said.
A pack of cookies make impressive treats with decorations on top.
PICK A THEME
Colour and theme are central to making an impact.
Align the tablecloths, plates, cups, serviettes and party favours with the subject and shade of your child's choice.
Save money by shopping for decorations online.
"Facebook Marketplace is a really good source because a lot of people spend a lot on decorations and then sell them afterwards - especially popular themes like Harry Potter or unicorns," Ms Bell said.
"It's all free, there are no charges like on eBay."
Balloons are always a winner but the cost of helium balloons stacks up.
Consider buying a helium tank kit from any good party section.
And if you don't use all the balloons at once, you can get a couple of parties out of it.
Most importantly store the decorations in a tub and reuse them another year.
CATER FOR YOU
Build your radar in the months leading up to the birthday party.
Traditional party food is always a winner for the kids. If you keep an eye on sale items, you can stock up early and shave off a substantial amount off your bill.
"Kids love anything mini so keep food to finger size," Ms Bell said.
"Anything they can take in their hand while they run around is perfect."
Don't over cater. Kids get so excited with play they forget to eat.
"Make it nice but don't feel like you need to have as much food," she said.
For children with allergies, there are options that won't leave them feeling left out.
Offer crackers to suit their needs and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Cold platters are a hit with adults and give that catering feel. Stock up on cold meats, cheese and dips from the deli and add vegetable sticks and crackers.
RAIN, HAIL OR SHINE
Choose a venue to suit the time of the year.
A party in the park is fraught with danger: you need to secure a spot, the elements of nature can be harsh, you need to watch the kids closely and the food may turn foul fast.
Community halls are cheap and you can take your own food and decorations.
Inflatable play centres are fun and fuss free for mum and dad.
"There are definitely benefits to doing it outside the home; you pay an amount per child, you bring a cake, and you leave. It's all very low maintenance," Ms Bell said.
For entertainment, traditional party games are always fun including pass to parcel, pin the donkey and musical chairs.